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Written Answers - Services for People with Disabilities

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 488.  Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Health Information on James Reilly Zoom on James Reilly  if provision has been made for all school leavers with a learning disability who will leave the education system next month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23947/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The HSE is currently undertaking extensive work in conjunction with the non-statutory providers to ensure that the emerging needs of school leavers are addressed prior to finishing school. Communication with parents is an ongoing element of that work.

This process requires a certain amount of flexibility from disability service providers and the maximisation of additional capacity from within existing resources. The aim is to address the needs of individuals in one or more of the following ways:

Health-funded rehabilitative training;

Health-funded day services;

[494] FÁS — funded vocational training;

and approval to extend education placement for a specified time.

While the HSE makes every effort to provide day services to people over 18 on leaving school, this has always been dependent on the availability and location of appropriate places coupled with the needs of the individual school-leaver. Furthermore the HSE and non-statutory providers must operate within their existing budgets.

The demand for services for school leavers continues to grow. The HSE expects that approximately 700 school leavers will require services in 2012. Disability services will be required to cater for demographic pressures, such as new services for school leavers and emergency residential placements, from within their existing budgets. 2012 budgets have been reduced by 3.7% and the moratorium on staff recruitment gives rise to challenges in service provision. In addition the physical capacity to provide further services may not be present in all agencies. The HSE’s aim will be to apply any reductions in a way which minimises the impact on service users and their families as much as possible, although some reductions in services will be unavoidable. The HSE 2012 Service Plan states that at least 2% of the reduction should not impact on services and needs to be generated from other savings and increased efficiencies.

This is the first year that no additional funding has been made available for demographic pressures for a number of years, therefore meeting the needs of all school leavers with disabilities will be challenging in 2012. However, both the voluntary sector and the HSE are committed to the best use of available resources in a creative and flexible manner to be as responsive as possible to the needs that present. The planning process is underway to ensure that all school leavers requiring services are identified and prioritised.

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